Research groups

E4A aims to integrate the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities by producing improved curricula, teaching materials and research plans through the application of Ecological Economics to the disciplines of Economics and Finance, Law and Governance, and Ethics. Three Research Groups comprised of the wider E4A community are devoted to exploring how to reconcile these “orphan” disciplines.

Economics and Finance Research Group

The E4A Economics and Finance (E&F) group seeks to foster research and collaboration on topics related to the role of money and finance in the Anthropocene, and its implications for the emerging field of ecological macroeconomics. Particular attention is paid to the question of whether a reformist agenda – relying mostly on post-Keynesian theory – will be sufficient to foster a stable and ecological financial system; or whether more transformative approaches are needed, including socio-ecological versions of sovereign money, complementary currencies and cryptocurrencies. The group aims to clarify the divergences encountered on such questions, and open research on how the institution of money could promote new forms of human-Earth relationships.

Regular online meetings – possible attendance remotely – have included broad discussions on ecological money and finance (led by Joshua Farley and Peter G. Brown), and specific debates such as:
– Discussing Full Reserve Banking and Sustainability (Inge Ropke)
– Discussing the ‘Monetary Growth Imperative’ (Peter Victor)
– Local Currencies or sovereign money for Systemic Change (Kristofer Dittmer)
– Integrated Biophysical and Financial Models (Gary Flamenhoft)
– The Grammar of Money (Leander Bindewald)
– Understanding the Dollar System (Ranulfo Paiva Sobrinho)

Joe Ament and Romain Svartzman ;

Ethics Research Group

The Ethics Research Group seeks to foster ongoing collaboration and exploration of topics related to ontology and ethics. Our primary concern is the human-Earth relationship, and the scope for 2017-2020 is Ethics, Science and the Anthropocene. Within this larger agenda, the current objective of the Ethics Research Group is to explore the potential and limitations of ethics in getting traction in the Anthropocene problematic. How can ethics help communities of practice move towards more desirable human-Earth relationships? The group hosts an ongoing speaker and discussion series, exploring the year’s themes through stimulating conversations with leaders in thought and practice. These discussions are hosted in person at McGill University, with remote participation welcome through an online platform. The group also hosts workshops that bring together diverse practitioners and scholars to explore a particular theme in greater depth.

This research explores four main themes:

1. Normative frameworks that might enable more harmonious human-Earth relationships;

2. Ethical dimensions of contemporary environmental problems such as climate justice and rights of nature;

3. How the contemporary human sciences (moral psychology, neuroethics, and evolutionary biology) can inform ethically informed discourse and human action; and

4. New and alternative ontologies that recognize co-creative systems of life, materiality, relationality, and agency.

Click here for more details or contact Christopher Orr at

Law and Governance Research Group

The thesis of the Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A) Law and Governance Research Initiative is that the Anthropocene imposes a pressing need to reframe law and governance toward a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship, with rigorous reliance on contemporary science and traditional knowledge systems. The research initiative is coordinated closely with the work of the Ecological Law and Governance Association (ELGA). ELGA emerged out of the 2016 Oslo Manifesto for Ecological Law and Governance. Per the Manifesto, “the ecological approach to law is based on ecocentrism, holism, and intra-/intergenerational and interspecies justice. From this perspective, or worldview, the law will recognise ecological interdependencies and no longer favour humans over nature and individual rights over collective responsibilities. Essentially, ecological law internalizes the natural living conditions of human existence and makes them the basis of all law, including constitutions, human rights, property rights, corporate rights and state sovereignty.” The 2018 work plan for the E4A L&G Research Initiative builds on efforts initiated or continued in 2017, most importantly a October 2017 joint E4A/ELGA workshop on the transition from environmental to ecological law. Key activities for 2018 include: 1) a series of Zoom-based webinars on topics highlighted by participants at the October 2017 workshop; 2) working with the Vermont Law Review on publication of essays related to presentations at the October 2017 workshop in a special issue of the VLR; 3) progress on compiling a monograph with longer articles/chapters (than in the VLR issue) emerging from the October 2017 workshop; 4) coordinating an L&G panel at an appropriate E4A or other workshop or symposium (if this opportunity arises), and 5) ongoing collaboration with ELGA on joint areas of interest. Click here for more details.

To keep up to date on current L&G initiative, please click here. They also hold monthly webinars; for the full schedule please click here.

In the meantime, have a look at past webinars: 1) Ecological Law and Governance: Introduction and Overview (February 26, 2019), 2) Life after mining: How do we move beyond extractivism (March 19, 2019).